I'll start by agreeing completely with Jeff and disagreeing slightly with Ardy. These are gangs, and but more like biker gangs. They are organized, they do have "membership." They have some organizational difficulty, because there are multiple groups represented. They are "loosely affiliated" but have related goals just like Al Qiada and its affiliates.
Look, they've been looking for an excuse to band together and be confrontational. Remember Homeland Security put out a report that identified them as a potential security threat just last year. They are seriously fringe, and there even more fringe-y ones among them. They are a dangerous lot, and sooner or later will do something even more stupid. When one gets so caught up in a fantasy, one is capable of justifying all kinds of atrocities. Remember LA and the police shooter (whose name I cannot remember). Or Timothy McVeigh? These guys are just a firecracker away from "going rogue."
Thay have already committed felony assaults (on video no less), and threatened physical violence. Local police need to get them under control or turn in their badges. I'd challenge anyone to make a distinction between them and AQ. Except for track record, they are the same, and have the same mind set. They have their 'cause', are convinced they are 'justified', are willing to do violence against innocents, and the history - or their mythologized version - supports them. They want to impose their own constuti-Caliphate on us all. Zealots and nut jobs are dangerous.
_________________________ A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.
Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich